A Conversation for The h2g2 Essex Researchers Group

Strange but True

Post 1

Rosa Baggins daughter of Pronto Baggins and Mimosa Bunce

The Aveley Abduction
27 October 1974
The Aveley event was the first British abduction to involve regression hypnosis.

Due to unpleasant publicity to the witnessess their identities have been hidden and pseudonyms have been used. The real names of the witnesses have been made public in many books and articles about this event.

John and Elaine Avis together with their three young children were driving home to the village of Avelly in Essex after 10pm in the evening of 27 October 1974.

Shortly after seeing a blue light in the sky, described as an oval shaped and pale in colour which they ocassionally glimpsed as they were driving, they found rounded a green fog, which seemed to move across the road, obscurring it just outside it just their home village. They also appeared to enter a 'cone of silence', a commonly reported feature of UFO abductions where an unnatural stillness stillness and quiet surrounds the witnesses.

They were unable to strop driving into the fog. When they did so the car radio crackled and smoked, the engine went dead and the car jerked violently. Suddenly they were back driving towards their home!

On arriving home the couple switched on the television set keen to watch a programme for which they had raced back from Elaine's parents but they were disappointed to see a blank screen. In fact the television had shut down its broadcasts for the evening and on checking the time they were amazed to discover it was now 1pm in the morning. They had lost two and a half hours.

Some three years after the encounter, when it was brought to the attention of the UFO investigators, regression hypnosis was carried out. From this came the suggestion that the couple were subjected to medical examination by tail silver suited figures and small bat like creatures.

Elaine related something similar to an out-of-body experience describing floating snsations and even looking back and seeing herself inside the car while being inside the UFO. John was apparently shown the power unit of the UFO and saw videos of the aliens' home planet.

The aliens told them that genetic experimentation was part of their reason for being there, an element which featured strongly in North American cases.

There has been some speculation about the direction of the Aviv's life since the encounter, in particular John has had undergone more changes which led him to be more ecologically concerned and more artistically inclined. He himself at a public meeting of UFO researchers denied that any change had been dramatic stating that he believed he had always been interested in these subjects anyway, and the inerests would have surfaced at some stage.

Interestingly, many encounter cases in Sweden have left the witnesses with profound feelings of concern for the enviroment and it is speculated that this aspect was part of the meaning of these experiences.


Strange but True

Post 2

Rosa Baggins daughter of Pronto Baggins and Mimosa Bunce

The strange affair of the Runwell priest

It was a Sunday when villagers and workers from the surrounding farms, all dressed in their Sunday best, were listening attentively to their new priest when suddenly, in the middle of the sermon, there emerged from his mouth not his words but the words of the Devil! The congreation was astounded, so stunned that they remained glued to their pew seats. The preacher was even more astounded than the congreation. The preacher's greater knowledge of the Devil made him realise that immediate actions were required or the consequences could be disasterous. He jumped from the pulpit and then swift as an
arrow, shot to the church door, hotly pursued by his enemy. The preacher's amazing speed he was able to reach the porch and slam the door behind him. So fast was the Devil travelling that he was unable to stop and made violent contact with the unexpectant barrier. So great was the Devil's fury that he clawed the woodwork, and if you do not believe this story, you can still see the claw marks on the door to this day!


Strange but True

Post 3

Rosa Baggins daughter of Pronto Baggins and Mimosa Bunce

The Nuthampstead Zodiac

In the region where the boundaries of Essex and Cambridgeshire meet, the roads, paths, lanes and by ways pursue their courses together with the steams, ditches, ponds and hedges from the irregular outline of the signs in a gigantic terrestrial zodiac so as it has been claimed.


Strange but True

Post 4

Rosa Baggins daughter of Pronto Baggins and Mimosa Bunce

October 1997 there was an UFO sighting at Southend sea front. A young man and his girlfriend were sitting by the side of the Southend pier. He saw what he thought was a shooting star but it did not have a tail. Then he watched it travel across the sky very quickly then slow down and stop. He tried to get his girlfriends attention but by the time she turned around it was gone.


Strange but True

Post 5

Rosa Baggins daughter of Pronto Baggins and Mimosa Bunce

Chelmsford Sighting

The Daylight 'Light'

Sunday 12 August 2002 Approx. 10:15pm

The object in the sky moved as slowly as a satellite for about 40 seconds moving from north to south, then it sped up and made a sharp move to the left, moved in a wobbly semi circle, then moved back to the line it was on previously. It then 'brightened/glowed' then disappeared.

4 Lights over Wickford in Essex

At 21:10 6 people from their home spotted 4 lights in a diamond formation. These lights were distant, around 10 to 20 miles away and orange, white in colour. Over a period of 4 or 5 mins they moved to a triangle, then into inline formation.

6 strange orange lights were also spotted in the sky which had reduced in number to 3. The lights seemed to be coming from the north of Wickford and appeared to be moving in that direction.

Strange but True

Post 6

Rosa Baggins daughter of Pronto Baggins and Mimosa Bunce

Borley Rectory was reputed to be the most haunted house in the UK. The rectory was built by the Reverend Henry D. E. Bull in 1863 near the river Stour, Essex, for himself, his wife and their 14 children. The rectory burnt down in a fire started in mysterious circumstances in 1939.

It is thought that the rectory was destined to be a haunted house from the start due to the events that had occurred on the site many centuries before. The foundation was an age old Priory on land that contained a 12th century Church, Caretaker's House and other buildings. Reverend A.C. Henning, the rector in 1936, discovered that the Doomsday Book told of a Borley Manor prior to 1066, so he concluded a wooden church was probably also built around that time. The foundations contained underground tunnels and a complex of vault rooms. The Rectory had 20 rooms and was about 3 stories high.

The most popular story about the Borley Rectory was that in 1362 Benedictine Monks built a monastery on the site which would later hold the rectory. Legend told of a nun from the Bures convent, 7 miles southeast of Borley fell in love with a monk from the monastery. They had decided to elope to be together, but the monestary discovered their plans. A friend of the monk was to drive a carriage to help them escape. On the fateful night they were captured by the senior monks. The coachman was beheaded, the monk hanged and the nun was bricked up alive in the walls of the vaults beneath the rectory. The ghosts of the nun and the monk have haunted the site ever since.

Reverend Henry D. E. Bull became rector of Borley in 1862. He then built a large, brick building the next year. Bull added a new wing to the already rambling building in 1875. The first reported paranormal sightings at Borley were reported by P. Shaw Jeffrey who witnessed stone throwing and similar poltergeist activity whilst visiting the rectory during 1885.

Strange but True

Post 7

Rosa Baggins daughter of Pronto Baggins and Mimosa Bunce

A dog is seen in a Churchyard near Kelvedon Hall in Brentwood. The dog
was shot on the alter by an angry landowner, now the dog now haunts the area in which it died.

Strange but True

Post 8

Rosa Baggins daughter of Pronto Baggins and Mimosa Bunce

A Red ball of light has been seen in clear sky moving at tremendous speed. Red object have also seen by Southend UFO Group members on October skywatch in Great Wakering

A disc shaped object seen near Sutton Rd with three-four small bright lights moving in a close proximity

Two white balls of light were seen over Great Wakering moving at tremendous speed before disappearing.

Looking towards Great Wakering High Street, travelling past Morleys nursery two white objects were seen over ther which then moved at an incredible speed before disappearing.

A white circular object was seen at first moving towards the Thames before zig zagging at an incredible speed before climbing vertically towards Foulness Island and then disappeared.

Two brown saucer shaped objects were spotted travelling slowly before moving off at tremendous speed. It was seen by two witnesses the objects were totally silent.

White lights in formation were seen over the Pipps Hill area of Basildon around 6.30am by two witnesses starting their morning shift at work. They were in formation and could be seen for about 15 minutes. They blinked on and off intermittently disappeared.

A Feint star like object seen star moving across the sky. The Object stopped moving for quite some time before another fainter light appeared to one side of it. This appeared and disappeared three times.

Two orange balls of light where seen by two witnesses

Three white orbs where seen moving east in daylight

A White ball of light seen hovering over fields. Moved off at atremendous speed.

A Silent white/silver cigar shaped object was seen for approximately five minutes.

Four objects hovered above a group of teenagers. Objects shot off and come back whereupon they again hovered overhead. They were about fifteen to one hundred and twenty feet long and disk shaped with yellow/white lights around them. They were also slightly tilted.

A White orb has been seen from Southend seafront over the Thames

A white orb type object has been seen and recorded on camera phone. The Object moves at tremendous speed. The same object as was witnessed by four other people in same area at different times.

Strange but True

Post 9

Rosa Baggins daughter of Pronto Baggins and Mimosa Bunce

Strange but True

The Alderton Hall, in Loughton, was built in the 17th century. An actor and his family have amassed considerable evidence that the hall was haunted. There is a Local legend has it that a servant girl drowned her self after being dishonoured by the Master of the Hall.
The family were very well aware of the rumours before they moved into the Hall but they had paid little attention to them. Within days of the family moving into the Hall, the family had heard running footsteps which could not be accounted for. Twice it was heard a piano playing when there no one was near it. A fair-haired man had also been seen, but when the family had searched for the stranger no trace of him could be found. One of the daughters awoke one night to find a strange face looking down on her, another time she felt a had hold her but when she looked she saw a little girl fade into the wall. When the two sisters shared a bed they were awoken by a tremendous crash, when they turned the light on the room was in total disarray.

Like most of the hauntings in this area it has been associated with The Highwayman Dick Turpin, who is said to have roasted an old lady, alive, in the fireplace, so that she would reveal where she had hid her fortune. Any of the ghosts stories associated with Dick Turpin should be treat with a pinch of salt, as he seems to haunt most of England.

Strange but True

Post 10

Rosa Baggins daughter of Pronto Baggins and Mimosa Bunce

The tale of Matthew Hopkins, Witch-Finder General of Essex

Matthew Hopkins is perhaps the most famous of the witch finders of the seventeen century Britain. The sense of imminent violence, mistrust and religious fervour surrounding the ongoing English civil war provided all that was needed for supernatural paranoia to take hold. It was within such an atmosphere of the English civil war a man such as Matthew Hopkins could thrive.

During his career as a witch-finder Matthew Hopkins had executed between 200 and 400 for witchcraft. This reign of terror began in Manningtree. In 1644. An olld one-legged Elizabeth Clarke was the first victim of Hopkins' search for enemies of God, but by the time Clarke's brutal interrogation was over thirty-one accomplices had been named.

The reputation and horror grows
The career of Hopkins 'began modestly, but as his reputation grew, so did his ego. He began to proclaim himself Witch finder General and he commanded large expenses for his work. At a time when average daily wages were around two pence, Hopkins would take up over £20 for ridding a village of witchcraft. While not strictly guilty of torture, which was forbidden under law, Hopkins and his minions used sleep deprivation to secure confessions.

Torture and trickery
While he appeared outwardly honest and earnest in his beliefs. Matthew Hopkins began to use trickery in his search for convictions. It was believed that witches' spots did not bleed, and so Hopkins made use of a knife with a retractable blade that wouldn't pierce the skin of the accused. His specialised in extracting confessions from elderly women with pets. For example, Faith Mills of Fressingham admitted following interrogation that her three pet birds, Tom, Robert, and John, were familiars who had magically made a cow jump over a sty and break a cart. Faith Mills was hanged.

Another method he used of uncovering witchcraft was to throw the accused in the lake. It was believed witches would not sink because their bodies rejected baptism and thus water. If the accused floated they were guilty, if they sank they were innocent. Contrary to popular belief, those that sank did not usually drown, but they were pulled out with a rope that had been tied around them. John Lowe, a 70-year-old vicar of Brandeston, received this treatment. He was kept awake for three days and three nights, and then forced to walk without rest until his feet were blistered, before being ducked in a lake. He was denied a visitation by the clergy and had to recite his own funeral verses on the way to the gallows.

The world turns against Hopkins
As the carnage continued some Villages would not allow Hopkins to enter. The resentment was growing against him and his methods. Reverend John Gaule of Great Staughton wrote a pamphlet in 1646 called The "Select Cases of Conscience towards Witches and Witchcraft" exposing Hopkins' methods. He also preached against Hopkins suggesting that the Witch-Finder General may actually be a witch himself.
Hopkins did publish a reply, "The Discovery of Witchcraft", but his reputation was ruined. Then fewer towns and villages were willing to accept his services. His demise, perhaps aptly, is shrouded in mystery. One explanation is that he died in bed of tuberculosis. The other version is that he was set upon by villagers, ironically accusing him of witchcraft, and he was lynched.

Strange but True

Post 11

Rosa Baggins daughter of Pronto Baggins and Mimosa Bunce

12th June - The Dunmow Flitch
Each leap year, happily married couples can claim an unusual prize at Dunmow, Essex. If they can prove that they have never had an argument, they are given an entire side, or flitch, of bacon. Not many couples win the prize! In the 19th century, the flitch was offered to Queen Victoria after the first year of her marriage to Prince Albert. But the queen was not amused, and turned the present down.

Strange but True

Post 12

Rosa Baggins daughter of Pronto Baggins and Mimosa Bunce

Sible Hedingham, Essex
The Swan Inn in this village was the scene of one of the last fatal witch swimmings. On the 3 August 1865 an old Frenchman who had a reputation as a witch, and who made his living telling fortunes and giving advice, despite that he was deaf and dumb. He was attacked by one of the locals named Emma Smith of Ridgwell. A crowd soon gathered, and at last they dragged the unfortunate man down to the river by the side of what is now Aberford Street, down to Rawlinson's Mill, and pushed him in to swim him as a witch. The next day the man died of exposure, and though Emma Smith continued to insist that the old man, she and one of her accomplices had bewitched her, was tried for murder.

Strange but True

Post 13

Rosa Baggins daughter of Pronto Baggins and Mimosa Bunce

Thaxted, Essex
The great composer Gustav Holst, who was born at Cheltenham in 1874. He lived for many years in this village, first in Monk Street Cottages, which were burned down. Later on from 1917 to 1925, in the manse, while in Thaxted he played the organ in the north transept in the parish church. It was the choir organ in the tower being a later addition, where he composed the famous suite The Planets. In his composition he gave the musical equivalents for the traditional pictures of the planetary virtues and their influences, which indicated his deep knowledge of astrology

Strange but True

Post 14

Rosa Baggins daughter of Pronto Baggins and Mimosa Bunce

The Making of a Horror Story of human combustion

The story about Phyllis's Newcombe accident first appeared outside Essex through an item about the inquest, published in the Daily Telegraph on September 20, 1938. That story was somewhat vague, because it didn't mention when Phyllis's died, and paid much more attention to the fact that the ambulance had taken 20 minutes to arrive. This gave the readers the impression that the ambulance was too late to save Phyllis. Prominent in the story was a quote from the Coroner L.F. Beccles: 'From all my experience I have never come a case so very mysterious as this.'

The first author to write about Phyllis Newcombe was sci-fi writer Eric Frank Russell. In May 1942 in the issue of Tomorrow, in the section 'Scientific Fantasy,' he described all kinds of mysterious deaths, including the mysterious cases of human combustion. Of the latter he had quoted nineteen cases, all from 1938 and the first week of 1939 that he had got from British newspapers. He didn't mention Phyllis by name:

The 'Chelmsford woman was burned to death in a dance hall' was followed by Beccles's quote. A revised version of Russell's article was printed in Fate in December 1950, and this was reprinted in March 1955 in the UK edition of Fate. In the Fate of 'a dance hall' was changed to 'in the middle of a dance hall' and Beccles' quote read 'as mysterious' rather than 'so very mysterious.'

In Great World Mysteries Russell 1957) considerably ellaborated the story. The atmosphere on the dance floor is set by 'Couples glided around the floor, others chatted and sipped soft drinks,' the victim who was still unnamed 'burst into flames bang in the middle of a dance hall' and that the remark is added that the victim didn't smoke cigarettes and that she had not been in contact with any type of lit tobacco. Russell writes: 'She roared like a blow-torch and no man could save her.'

This version of the story was probably the source for an article in True of May 1964 by the American writer Allan W. Eckert. He dated the accident on September 20, made the location 'the midst of a crowded dance floor,' let the poor girl 'burst into intense blue flames' (like a blow-torch?), made her crumple silently to the floor, and 'neither her escort nor other would-be rescuers was able to extinguish the flames. In minutes she was ashes, unrecognizable as a human being.' Then Eckert made up the first name 'Leslie' for Beccles and then changed the quote again). The article was illustrated by a full page picture of a Marilyn Monroe-esque woman in a sexy pose wrapped in flames.

Strange but True

Post 15

Rosa Baggins daughter of Pronto Baggins and Mimosa Bunce

Tue 4 May 2004 Scotsman.com News

A Couple had to buy petrol for their ambulance

A PREGNANT woman’s partner had to pay for the petrol when the ambulance they were travelling in almost ran dry.

Chris Boag, of Brentwood, in Essex, had to lend the ambulance driver £40 after his credit card was refused when he stopped for petrol on the way to hospital.

The incident happened on April 24 after Mr Boag’s partner Julia Paul, 30, went into premature labour and had to be taken 130 miles to Leicester Royal Infirmary.

The couple’s local hospital in Chelmsford was unable to care for a premature baby and they could not find a suitable hospital for two days.

First the ambulance used to take Ms Paul to Leicester had a flat tyre and then the second did not have enough petrol.

The Essex Ambulance has now extended the use of its petrol cards to allow them to be used at three of the major garage chains. Now all the ambulance crews are now given petrol cards.

Strange but True

Post 16

Rosa Baggins daughter of Pronto Baggins and Mimosa Bunce

Coggeshall - mysterious things happen

There are local legends about the village of Coggeshall which makes it one of the most intriguing in East Anglia. The area is famed for its bizarre and obscure past. A tourist information leaflet describes the place as a "discover sleepy unspoilt Coggeshall, where the ley lines cross and mysterious things happen."

There is a rumour that the ley lines which are powerful beams of energy linked to the earth's magnetic pull are actually cross in Coggeshall, creating friction.

Some of the locals suggest they are the cause of the unusually high number of disturbing things that have happened in the town, but this has yet to be proved. There is no disputing that the town has had more than its fair share of scandal and macabre events, some as recent as the 1980s:

The Millionaire Coggeshall antiques dealer Wilfred Bull was handed a life sentence for shooting his wife Patsy dead in their antique showroom.

A Coggeshall farmer James Bell also blasted his wife with a shotgun in 1986 before turning the weapon on himself.

The disappearance of the doctor's wife Diana Jones put the town in the media spotlight in 1983 but her killer is still at large. Police have never closed the file on the 35-year-old woman whose body was found next to a busy main road in Suffolk three months after her death.

Peter Healey, the author of the Coggeshall curse, says a coven used to meet at Marks Hall and take part in bizarre rituals involving young women tied to trees.

His book is packed full of weird and incredible tales about the area, including the suggestion that the warrior queen Boudica (Boadicea) is buried with her chariot and jewels in the parish.

East Street in the town used to be known as Gallows Street and St Peter's road was once known as Dead Lane.It was also thought that a set of gallows used to be situated at the Tollgate crossroads for public hangings.

The Stan Haines, former curator of the Coggeshall Heritage Centre & Museum, believes that most of the stories which circulate in the town are purely "made-up figments of the imagination" He also added: "There is no mention of the ley lines in any history book and I think that this a product of gossip. "The whole idea has simply been taken out of context, but it does get the imagination going."

Mr Haines said: "People have lived out on many wild and bizarre stories, but they are just myths that have grown out of proportion.
"This town is no different to any other. It's very old and it's therefore inevitable that things have happened over the years.
"People tend to single out the more exciting bits without looking into them properly. Most locals agree the stories are just a load of old hogwash."

The Coggeshall's scary past has also attracted ghost busters from across the country and some history books suggest a local woman was tortured by witchcraft in the 17th century.

Mr Haines said: "The town is very proud of its history. We are still uncovering hidden treasures and that is what makes the area so fascinating."

Paycockes and Grange Barn in Coggeshall are both National Trust properties attracting thousands of guests each year. St Peter ad Vincula church and town clock are also popular tourist spots, along with the Coggeshall's meandering streets. Mr Haines added, "Coggeshall has a unique rural charm thanks to its historic and beautiful buildings, which makes it so popular."

Strange but True

Post 17

Rosa Baggins daughter of Pronto Baggins and Mimosa Bunce

IN August 1995 Lisa Potter was walking with her mother when they came to the Moots Lane railway crossing in Essex. Lisa's father had been killed there eleven years previously and her mother refused to walk any further on. Lisa decided it was time her mother overcame her superstition and tried to encourage her across. But as she stood on the crossing a train suddenly appeared and hit Lisa, killing her instantly.

Strange but True

Post 18

Rosa Baggins daughter of Pronto Baggins and Mimosa Bunce

‘Occult Activity’ at Coalhouse Fort Tilbury.

During the early 90’s a number of locations were being visited by people who were, for want of a better phrase, practising ‘black magic’. the possibility that the Coalhouse Fort was one such site reached the attention of a group ‘Earthquest’ dedicated to investigating such claims.

Reports had reached members of the ‘Earthquest’ group that people had been seen entering the fort late at night. Back in those days the fort was in a far poorer state than it is now, with many gaps in the fencing, thus making it an ideal location for such activity. The main area apparently targeted was the Courtyard, as this area is surrounded by high walls and buildings, making it well hidden from outside viewers. Although no one was ever caught one local did come forward to suggest that someone in Tilbury itself was involved, possibly leading the group. But, this was more than 10 years ago, it has proven impossible to track down either the ‘informer’ or the person involved. If such activity did take place this may explain the odd and rather oppressive atmosphere in the courtyard area.

Strange but True

Post 19

Rosa Baggins daughter of Pronto Baggins and Mimosa Bunce

Weird science

Sounds sore

Playing a musical instrument can increase the risk of suffering from a variety of skin complaints. Doctors said these can usually be averted by correcting playing techniques, or by making slight alterations to instruments.

Dr Thilo Gambichler, a consultant dermatologist at Oldchurch Hospital, has found the most common disorders are allergic reactions to specific components of an instrument, or irritant skin conditions caused by prolonged intense contact.

He said: "Apart from aggravating previous skin conditions, specific dermatological conditions may develop that are directly caused by playing a musical instrument."

The most frequently reported conditions are allergic reactions, such as to rosin, which is used to wax the bows of stringed instruments, and to the cane reeds used in clarinets and saxophones.

Flautists and brass and string players with an allergy to nickel reportedly suffered from dermatitis of the lips, chin or hands, which in some cases promoted chronic eczema.

Strange but True

Post 20

Rosa Baggins daughter of Pronto Baggins and Mimosa Bunce

Three pubs in Essex all called The Compasses be in a straight line 10 miles long. The 4th pub called The Compasses creates a circle and points to an ancient centre of Templar activity. Other strange coincidences. Geomancy, Masons, Templars and the Peasants revolt (1381) could all be linked.

Key: Complain about this post

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more